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In my native language, it is usually alright to say "our mom" whenever I'm referring to "my mom". But then, what is correct in English?

My mom gave me and my brother a ride to school yesterday.

Is it wrong to say "my mom" in this instance, since my mom is the mother of both me and my brother? I guess I don't feel too comfortable saying "Our mom gave me and my brother a ride to school yesterday," since saying "me and my brother" after "our mom" sounds superfluous for some reason. Please help!

EDIT: Oops, sorry for not being clear! My brother was not standing next to me at the time. Does this fact affect things?

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    As a side note, in this case, you can omit the possessive pronoun altogether: Mom gave me and my brother a ride to school yesterday. Everyone will (correctly) assume it's your mother. – J.R. May 23 '13 at 11:00
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    @J.R. That is true, but that construction is not usually used unless you are talking to your siblings. People would understand it to be your mother, but it sounds odd. This is using the word "Mom" as name, which is not really appropriate for people who do not call her "Mom." – Daniel May 28 '13 at 14:46
  • @Daniel: Good point – you are right about that. – J.R. May 28 '13 at 15:04
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    @Daniel: I don't think there's anything particularly special about talking to siblings there - it's just a matter of informal usage (granted, often with "intimates"). After all, no-one except you and your siblings call your mother "Mother". But most instances of but mother turned, for example, aren't addressed to people who actually call that particular woman "Mother". – FumbleFingers Jun 7 '13 at 0:33
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    It is also correct to write mum, which is the English spelling while mom is the American spelling. See dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/mum_1?q=mum – Tristan Jun 7 '13 at 12:02
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Both versions of OP's example are fine. It's not really relevant that Mom gave both brothers a ride. You can still use either in, say, "My brother stayed home sick, but my/our Mom gave me a ride to school". Provided another sibling has been mentioned in the discourse, our is always okay (but not required).

It's worth pointing out that the word Mom itself clearly indicates an informal context. UK speakers (I'm not sure about US) often use our in informal contexts even if no other sibling has been explicitly mentioned. This is particularly noticeable in the North of England, where you'll hear people use our kid [our Jimmy] to identify their brother [Jimmy]. But such usages would not be considered "formally correct".

Also note that as J.R. says, it's perfectly okay (mainly in informal usages) not to include any possessive pronoun at all with Mom, Mother, Dad, Father, Pop, etc. It's obvious whose parent you're talking about.

It's part of the available subtlety of English that people can choose whether to use the "inclusive" plural possessive, or plain singular. Sometimes you can make an educated guess as to how well a married couple are getting on, for example, by noting how often one of them chooses to use my when referring to something applicable to both of them (my house, my son, etc.).

But of course, some speakers habitually use my in contexts where others might use our, simply because they happen to be more self-centered, or they picked up the habit from a "less-than-inclusive" childhood.

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Unless you are standing with your brother next to you and telling a story that features the both of you, I would always say "my mother." Saying "our mother" would be confusing to the people to whom you are talking because you do not have the same mother. If you are talking to your siblings (who have the same mother), then I would just say "Mother gave..." or "Mom gave..."

As a side-note, when giving a list of people, one should always mention himself last. So instead of "My mom gave me and my brother..." one should properly say, "My mom gave my brother and me..."

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On the contrary, saying "our mom" makes agreement with the plural object. If I heard you say, "My mom gave me and my brother a ride." I'd be asking myself, *Is she not her brother's mom too? Maybe her parents are divorced and remarried so that she and her brother have different moms."


Edit: Despite the downvotes I will keep my answer here because in all honesty I firmly believe what I say below. Others may disagree and that is their prerogative. In practice I would avoid that construction completely in my speech and follow @J.R.'s advice using just Mom gave...

  • He is my real brother, so I guess I must have sounded really stupid, then... So when you say "my mom", it doesn't automatically imply that she is our mom even when I say "me and my brother"? – jess May 23 '13 at 4:54
  • I don't guess you sounded stupid. When people speak informally, sentences often change mid-stream and people are not going to jump on you for something that trivial. But whenever an unexpected wording is heard, some people might stop and think, "That was an odd choice of wording; I wonder why they said it that way." – Jim May 23 '13 at 5:00
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    The OP's version is definitely better than the version with "our". – snailboat May 23 '13 at 5:35
  • I agree with Jim – nothing stupid was said. In conversation, you could use either one, and I might not even notice the difference. In writing, though, when you have time to proofread, it's generally better to go with the "more precise" wording, so our would be better than my. – J.R. May 23 '13 at 10:59
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    I strongly disagree with this and agree with @snailboat. Unless you are standing with your brother next to you and telling a story that features the both of you, I would always say "my mother." – Daniel May 23 '13 at 17:41

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